Archive for the ‘Birthday Wishes’ Category

Happy Birthday (plus a day)…

May 7th, 2015

I’ve seen Bob Seger a number of times, the last time at MSG in December. He is at 70, as good as he was thirty years ago. He is, and has always been, a solid performer and a consummate professional.GeorgeHarrison_FrontTipIn.indd

At age 31 he was singing about ‘sweet sixteen turning thirty-one,” and “Chuck’s children… playing his licks…” As Seger’s 70th birthday passes us by, it’s worth noting that Seger is doing exactly what he wrote of almost 40-years ago, he’s out there playing Chuck Berry licks, and a better night would be hard to find.

As we celebrate the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers 70th birthday (yesterday, May 6th), Universal Music (UMe) has announced it is releasing Seger’s breakthrough, and many believe his masterpiece, album, Night Moves on 180g vinyl.

Capitol Records recording artist Bob Seger’s classic album, Night Moves, makes its debut on 180-gram vinyl on June 16, 2015. Seger’s breakthrough album, powerful and personal, is the newest vinyl reissue addition to the GRAMMY® Award-winning rocker’s extraordinary catalogue.

So Happy 70th Birthday to Bob Seger, still Rock and Rollin’ like he always has.

for certified professional guitar repair in Cambridge Ontario: Brian Gardiner Guitar Repair

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Happy 70th Birthday…

January 9th, 2014
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Jimmy Page

Picture Courtesy of Neal Preston, Sound and Fury©
Picture Courtesy of Neal Preston, Sound and Fury©

Pictures Courtesy of Neal Preston, from his book Sound and Fury.

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Happy 68th Birthday

January 3rd, 2014
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John Paul Jones.

The Led Zeppelin bassist spent his 68th year playing and touring with the obscure improvisational avant-garde band Supersilent, writing an opera based on August Strindberg’s Ghost Sonata, and in November, touring the Southern US with Country/Bluegrass singer/songwriter/producer Dave Rawlings Machine.

And if  your thinking avant-garde? Opera? Must be a very serious fellow, the last week has seen this photobomb going around.

Led Zeppelin’s John Paul Jones photobombs unsuspecting Led Zeppelin fan.

I, for one, can’t wait to see what next year brings.

Happy 68th Birthday Led Zeppelin’s  John Paul Jones. Take the day off and enjoy some rest, you probably need it.

Here’s Jones (left, playing mandolin) performing Going to California with Dave Rawlings Machine – likely on November 26th.

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Happy 64th Birthday…

August 20th, 2012

Robert Plant shot to fame over 40 years ago as the Golden God fronting Led Zeppelin. His 40 years in the spotlight has seen a remarkable career, which has changed direction a number of times.

Currently, Plant is performing old time American style bluegrass with rock crossover. He performs smaller halls and, although one of the most famous names in rock, travels without a posse. He is, in short, still an active creative musician willing to do the yeoman’s work of bringing his music to the people, regardless of how little he needs to do so.

Happy 64th Birthday Robert Plant CBE. For keeping the flame alive, and for the greatest opening line in rock music:

Hey Hey Mama, said the way you move,
gonna make you sweat gonna make you groove.

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Happy 65th Birthday…

June 1st, 2012
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In 1975 my father decided to expand his musical horizons. Marching bands being his music of choice, he had found some enjoyment in 70’s country. Maybe, he thought to himself, I should try this rock music my kids like so much. Sam the Record man had major sales every weekend, including the 99¢ album. Looking at the record of choice one week, he thought he’d give it a go. After all, the cover picture of the artist was a sensible looking man in a suit sitting at a Grand Piano. How bad could it be?

ron-wood-rod-stewartHe brought home Elton John’s Greatest Hits showing us his purchase. “Put on Saturday Night’s Alright fro Fighting,” said my older brother with a Machiavellian cunning that belied his 14 years. “It’s a great song!” Thus, on an album full of nice piano songs, or at worst a pop song about a crocodile or a rag-timish Honk, he dutifully put on the one song he was guaranteed to hate. Fifteen seconds later the album was back in it’s cover and my brother owned it.

The next week he went through the same routine, this time half-heartedly. His intent, however, was much different. This week was not about expanding his horizons, but sibling fairness and, although I don’t recall complaining that brother 1 got a free album, it was pretty clear this was about giving me a free album. Thus, at 12-years old I got The Faces Live Coast to Coast: Overture and Beginners. It was my introduction to the Faces and I was fairly well hooked.

A few years later when Ron Wood joined the Rolling Stones I was the only guy in grade 8 who had a clue who he was, and was suitably disappointed that The Faces now seemed over.

So it is I salute Ron Wood on the event of his 65th birthday not for his work as a Rolling Stone, not for leaving his fine wife of long standing for a virtual child/skank (actually, I’d smack him one for that if given a chance), not for Stay With Me, Ohh La La, Cut Across Shorty or many of the other very worthy Faces songs that would earn lesser mortals praise on these pages, but for being my first rock and roll disappointment.

Happy 65th Birthday Ron Wood, for being so good once upon a time.

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Happy 25th Birthday

April 11th, 2012

Joss Stone may seem to have done it all: at 16 she released her first album, at Ronnie Scott’s she stole the scene from Jeff Beck when she helped him do People Get Ready, she’s a member of a supergroup, Superheavy, that includes Mick Jagger and Ziggy Marley. And all this before her 25th birthday.

Stone has an amazing voice, and handles the old soul music as well as anyone. Her natural, easy going beauty and style make her one of the sexiest women out there, when she’s grooving across a stage it’s virtually impossible to take your eyes off of her.

Joss Stone has all the tools to be a superstar, but has instead managed her career such that she has success and respect of her peers without the sideshow of superfame.

Happy 25th birthday Joss Stone, and I suspect we’ll be hearing so much mo from you in the years to come.

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The Freedom of Music: No Regrets

November 27th, 2011
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One likes to believe in the freedom of music.
Rush – Spirit of Radio.

In 1979 I was visiting Belfast. During the trip I was at an old neighbor’s house. Their son, a few years my senior, was in University in England. He had to quit his band, he explained to me, when he left for school. sidebar-1

Stiff Little Fingers are more influential than they are popular – Green Day, among others, cite them as an influence – at least here in America. But the band would release four albums before dis-banding in 1983, and have released a number more since they reformed in 1988.

My old neighbor? He’s another middle aged guy with a job. I haven’t seen him in over 30 years, and I don’t know if he has any regrets, but I’d be willing to bet that on pub nights, he tells the boys over pints of bitter that he used to be in Stiff Little Fingers.

Terry Reid is an English singer. Recently interviewed at his Florida home, the still active performer said he had no regrets. Having had a career that had saw him eventually landing in Florida with enough assets to buy a home, that seems logical enough. What would Terry Reid have to regret?

In 1968 Jimmy Page was forming a new band in the aftermath of the Yardbirds breaking up. He had an idea for a singer, a guy who could powerfully belt out the blues, Terry Reid. Reid had some recent commitments and a reasonable prospect of success on his own, so he respectfully declined. He did, however, know of a bloke, Robert Plant.

If Reid really has no regrets about declining the gig as lead singer of Led Zeppelin, then he’s a fool. Here’s the lesson to take from the Terry Reid story: always demand a finders fee of 1 point on every album sold.

At least my Irish friend and Terry Reid made their choices. Not so Pete Best.

Best had the bad fortune of being the dues paying drummer in a nothing band called The Quarrymen, who got the boot just before they became The Beatles. On the verge of a record deal, Paul McCartney, John Lennon and George Harrison were told your drummer isn’t good enough. Out went Best, in came Ringo Starr.

If you think, well you can’t spend your life worrying about what might have been, consider this. Ringo Starr backstopped The Beatles for seven years, had one of his songs turned into a movie, another into a TV show. By the time The Beatles broke up he was very wealthy. He then had a reasonably successful solo career and developed and starred in a little TV show called Thomas the Tank Engine. For the last 22 years he has spent the summers touring with the Ringo Starr All Star Band, featuring an ever changing cast of the worlds best musicians. Oh yea, he married a Bond Girl.

It’s easy to say no point worrying over what might have been, but your life was never going to the one Ringo Starr got.

Pete Best, who turned 70 last Thursday (and many happy returns to him), has said in past interviews he too has no regrets, that he’s lived a good life and wouldn’t trade any of it. Fair enough, but as his 70th birthday passed, do you suppose somewhere deep in his being a little voice said, “just let me outlive that bastard Ringo Starr!”? He who gets the last laugh, and all that.

Still, some last laughs are louder than others, wouldn’t you think.

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Happy 85th Birthday….

October 18th, 2011
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… where to start with Chuck Berry? Johnny B Goode, possibly the most played song of the rock era? Perhaps my personal favorite, Memphis Tennessee? Reelin’ and Rockin’? No Particular Place to Go? So many songs, so little blog.

Chuck Berry at the Brampton Flower Festival

Chuck Berry at the Brampton Flower Festival

How about we talk about the influence: Kieth Richards idolized him, it was, in fact, what separated Richard’s from all the other London bluesers. John Fogerty quoted him in Centerfield (“roundin’ third and headed for home, it’s a brown eyed handsome man…”). Bob Seger and REO Speedwagon ended their 70‘s concerts with Chuck Berry songs. Back to the Future turned the tables, and inspired his new sound.

Truthfully, it is such a formidable career of great songs and great guitar playing, and while it’s safe to say without Chuck Berry there would be no George Thorogood, the broader truth is, without Chuck Berry there would be a lot less of the music that shaped our lives.

But at the end of the day, it is for inspiring the line in Bob Seger’s Rock and Roll Never Forgets, “all of Chuck’s children are out there, playing his licks,” that I offer birthday wishes. Because I am one of Chucks children, and because it would be so cool to be mentioned by name in a Bob Seger song.

Happy 85th birthday Chuck Berry. And don’t forget to keep on rockin’…

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Happy Birthday…

September 7th, 2011
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I once played in a band with a guy who had a major crush on Chrissie Hynde. “She is a guys women,” he would say, “she’s so sexy.” This is true, and she has an aura as the kind of women who can be one of the guys when it is called for, or all women when it is called for. She has classic good looks and is indeed a sexy women.

However, it is also unfair. Hynde is an accomplished musician and songwriter, singing and fronting the band that performed Brass in Pocket, Don‘t Get Me Wrong, Precious and Back in the Chain Gang. The Pretenders have had a thirty-three year career, Hynde and drummer Martin Chambers being the only constant members.

It is for none of the above that I wish Chrissie Hynde a happy 60th birthday. Middle of the Road is a great, straight up rock and roll song. It is one of the most underrated songs of the rock and roll era, and one off the best songs of the 1980’s, admittedly a weak era for song writing. Hynde’s harp solo at the end may be the best one in rock. For Middle of the Road alone, Hynde deserves recognition and honour.

So Happy 60th Birthday Chrissie Hynde, still sexy after all these years.

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Happy 75th Birthday…

June 22nd, 2011
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The story goes that Kris Kristofferson had to talk girlfriend Janis Joplin into recording Me and Bobby McGee. He never heard it however, until after her death in 1970.

kris-kristoffersonThat recording would go on to make Bobby McGee one of the true great songs of all time. Forty years on, it still sends chills up your spine.

Kristofferson has lived a varied life, including a stint as a helicopter pilot in the US Army. Upon completing his tour of duty the former Rhodes Scholar and BPhil in English literature was offered a position as professor of English Literature at West Point. He declined, opting for a life in music instead, a decision that led him to be disowned, and never reconciled, by his family.

Besides Me and Bobby McGee, he wrote Help Me Make It Through the Night and the brilliant Sunday Morning Coming Down, to name just two of dozens of hit songs. But today, on his 75th birthday, I offer a tip of the hat to Kris Kristofferson for Me and Bobby McGee, and of the truly great moments in music.

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Happy 65th Birthday…

April 19th, 2011
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Tim Curry has done it all: actor on screen and stage, singer and cartoon voice. His career has never made him a household name, but it’s been remarkable for it’s versatility and longevity.

His movie VC is long and varied: Rocky Horror Picture Show; Three Men in a Boat; The Hunt for Red October; Muppet Treasure Island. He has appeared on sitcoms, and done voices in Scooby Doo, Phineas and Ferb, A Sesame Street Christmas Carol and Garfield.

On Broadway he played in Rocky Horror, was Mozart in Amadeus, Scrooge in A Christmas Carol and King Arthur in Monty Python’s Spamalot.

In 1979 he had a top 40 hit with I Do The Rock, a fun song complete with quick rap verses.

For all that, there’s nothing there to make me mention Tim Curry.

In 1978 Curry released his first album, Read My Lips. On it, was the saddest, most depressing blues song you’ve ever heard. Angst runs through every word, every guitar line in Sloe Gin. It’s chorus, making liberal use of the F-word made sure it was never mainstream, but was more intense than any other rock song. Rock music sometimes rises out of ordinary, into true art. Sloe Gin is one of those moments.

So for Sloe Gin, Happy 65th Birthday Tim Curry.

Language Warning.

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Happy 70th Birthday

March 17th, 2011
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Bruce Springsteen tells the story from the stage. After a gig, a young Bruce and sidekick Steve Van Zandt are walking the Asbury Park beach late one summer night. clemons1Walking towards them is a huge guy, dark, frightening looking guy. There’s nobody else on the beach, and as tension mounts they realize, he’s carrying a…a…a… saxophone!

Thus goes the story of how Bruce met the guy who would be his on stage foil for the next forty years (and counting).

A former football player, Clarence Clemons said in his autobiography, Big Man, that he had stuck with Springsteen all these years because he loves his music. It’s not hard to argue a large reason that music is so lovable is the linebacker with the saxophone.

Happy 70th Birthday Clarence Clemons, for being the Big Man, and for that solo in Jungleland. Never has a saxophone felt so at home in rock and roll.

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Jimmy Page: January 9, 1944

January 9th, 2011
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Dr. Jimmy Page, OBE, Playing Chopin’s Prelude in Em.

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Happy 65th Birthday…

January 3rd, 2011
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John Paul Jones

Retirement age comes but once a lifetime, and John Paul Jones has hit the official age of retirement. Music fans worldwide can only hope he doesn’t take the hint of age, and continues working.

Whether with Led Zeppelin, as a solo artist or with Them Crooked Vultures, Jones has proven to be a rhythm section tour de force. May he continue to be so.

The last couple of birthdays, I have wished Jones a year traveling with old friends. Last year, it was modified to friends, old and new. This year, let me modify it again, and wish John Paul Jones a year of music, of friends, health and happiness.

Happy 65th Birthday John Paul Jones.

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Happy 65th Birthday…

December 20th, 2010
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Respect can be a hard commodity to acquire. Take Peter Criss: my local paper, in noting his 65th birthday today, refer to him as a percussionist. That makes him sound like the guy who crashes cymbals at the end of the 1812 overture.

Criss was, for the uninitiated, the drummer for Kiss during their best years. One of the hardest working bands ever, Criss drummed in full makeup, and sang. His poignantly tender voice makes Beth the heartfelt tribute it is rather than the syrupy pap it could be.

But prior to Beth, Criss gave his unique vocals to Black Diamond, a highlight of pre-Beth Kiss shows. He had four solo albums and, lets face it, backstopped one of the best rhythm sections in rock and roll with one of the worst bassists.

Personally, Criss has been married three times, including 15 years to a former Playboy Playmate and Coppertone Model. He has been married to his current wife, Gigi Criss, since 1998.

Happy 65th birthday Peter Criss, you’ve earned it.

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